Show me mercy…please.
MAY 10, 2022
Show me mercy…please. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
If you’ve suffered too long under a do more, try harder religion. Key Life is here to proclaim that Jesus sets the captives free. Steve invited Pete Alwinson to teach us this week. Pete is a former pastor, founder of ForgeTruth.com and the author of Like Father Like Son.
Thank you Matthew. And it’s good to be with you today. My name is Pete Alwinson and I’m sitting in for Steve this week, giving him a little bit of a break. And we’re talking about some of the key teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, in the Beatitudes. And today we’re going to be talking about mercy. Hey, you know, that’s the fifth Beatitude.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
That Jesus says in Matthew 5:7. And, I don’t know about you, but mercy is an interesting subject. It’s really kind of the flip side of grace and they’re definitely related and intertwined. And so, we’re going to talk about it today, about what it means to be merciful. Someone once said that a great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men. And I think that’s true. I think great people, know what it’s like, to be kind to those who have less of a position in life than they do. I like the story of the priest who asked the little boy, if he said his prayers every night and the little boy said, yes sir. And the priest said, and do you always say them in the morning too? And the little boy said, no sir, I ain’t scared in the daytime. And so, think for a moment when you were scared or in trouble, when you really were hurting and you needed help, but you didn’t deserve it, when you needed and wanted pity or leniency, where you didn’t want pure justice, you just wanted somebody to help you. You needed mercy. I can think of a couple of times in my own life, one time it was an elementary school, I got caught stealing. And, yeah I had a problem with that when I was younger, I had a paper route and I wanted to cut the overhead. And so, what I did was I just stole rubber bands from a department store every day in Southern California it never rains, so you don’t use plastic bags, you just rubber band them and throw them out there. Well, I got caught and, oh man, I thought, I’m going to jail. And my single mother is going to be so mad at me, but the manager put the fear of God in me and gave me mercy. Another time I remember was when I was hiking in Southern California and I got trapped in the mountains, I was a little older, in that situation. And, we had to get rescued by the Riverside Rescue Squad. I mean, they found us deep down in this cliff, in this gorge and I needed mercy big time. And so, Jesus says.
Blessed are those who are merciful.
In that they give mercy, what is it? What is it? Well, mercy is an attribute of God, really. It’s something that we know to be true of. God. God is all powerful. God is gracious. God is omnipresent. He’s good. He’s kind. He’s loving. He’s merciful. So mercy is really an attribute of God. And God’s mercy is mostly seen in relation to us, as his people, because that’s where mercy is needed. God’s mercy is needed, particularly for us, in our relationship with him. We see grace and mercy, showing up early in the Bible. In Genesis 6:8, it says that Noah found favor, that’s the Hebrew word khen or grace. He found favor in the eyes of God. And in Genesis 19:19, we find both about Lot, it says.
Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your loving kindness
But the word is mercy, from the Hebrew word chesed.
which you have shown me by saving my life, but I cannot escape into the mountains less than the disaster overtake me and I die.
You know what we find is that mercy is an essential attribute of God and how he relates to us, Exodus 34:6.
The Lord passed in front of Moses and proclaimed, “The Lord, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding and faithfulness and truth.
So, number one, what is mercy? It’s an attribute of God. And we see his compassion and kindness and pity and loving kindness, all throughout the Old Testament. And we see it in the New Testament. So, number two, what is mercy? Well, it’s understood best when we compare it to grace.
is especially associated with people in their sins. Mercy is especially associated with people in their misery.
I love that. That helps me so much. Well, I need grace to be forgiven of my sins, but I also need mercy in how my sins have led to a miserable life. And so, I need God to withhold from me what I so rightly deserve. And that is mercy. Someone said.
Grace sees us as guilty and a need of forgiveness. Mercy sees us as bearing the practical consequences of our sin.
Oh, how powerful that is. Mercy is when we’re stuck and we absolutely can’t help our selves. I had a personal example of this, earlier this year. My son-in-law was in town and my son was in town and we all went snipe hunting. And, we were out in the Florida marshes, snipe hunting, and I got stuck in muck almost up to my hips. And I couldn’t move. I mean, I couldn’t move. I probably could have slid out of my boots, but I was so stuck. I was, I was about ready to fall over. And if my son-in-law and son had not come over and grabbed an arm each, I’d still be out there in that muck. But they showed me some mercy. So mercy is when you’re stuck and you can’t help yourself. When has that happened to you? Hmm. How has mercy given us in the gospel is such an important thing. We’ve seen that mercy is really is undeserved as grace is. And we see it in the gospel. In Romans 9, the apostle Paul is quite clear about showing mercy, being totally up to God. He says to Moses.
“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
So it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. So in the Old Testament and the New Testament, we see here that God had mercy on whoever he wants to have mercy on. And that’s the same way with truth in the New Testament. God has grace on those whom he will have it. It’s so important to see that in the New Testament, God has shown his mercy on us, in the gospel. But as we think back in the Old Testament, what was one of the biggest symbols of mercy in the Old Testament? Well, it was the mercy seat on the Ark of the covenant? It was the atoning cover, that the high priest would go into and splash blood one time a year and put that blood on the mercy seat. Therefore giving the capability for the whole nation of Israel to be forgiven. And then what do we see that Jesus did for us. Well, he’s the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And so, we see that the whole mercy idea is set up in the Old Testament, that God is gracious and merciful in the Old Testament. And he’s gracious and merciful to us preeminently in Jesus Christ in the gospel. I love the story of the good Samaritan, which almost everybody’s heard before. And in that story of the good Samaritan, we see, that really this guy who was beat up and left for dead was treated by a Samaritan, a natural enemy. He was taken care of and he was shown mercy in his misery. Now let me tell you real quick what mercy is not. Mercy, is in complete alignment, mercy is not ignoring justice. Mercy is in complete alignment with justice, and it’s important for us to understand that. But it’s important to understand also that mercy is not just being sentimental. Mercy is not just saying Aw, and being concerned for a little puppy. Mercy is seeing how there is a real need that we can move into and give help in time of need. Let me give you a truth. Merciful people are great people as God defines greatness. And that’s why we’re talking about it, why Jesus talks about it so much. Those who get mercy are in a position to give mercy. This is why mercy is such a great thing. Those who have received mercy are merciful.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.
If you and I have received the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, we will give it. And then in turn, we will receive it even more. It’s a powerful statement of reality. Those who get mercy are in a position to give mercy to other people. We mourn over our own sin. We are meek. We hunger and thirst for righteousness. And since we have received mercy from God, we give mercy to other people. Mercy is a communicable attribute of God. It’s something that gives us, that enables us to give to other people. I like someone who’s very close to me, who is a drug addict and he loves to give mercy to other people because he has received it himself. May we be people who understand the mercy we have gotten that we may give it to others. You take it to heart.
And that was our friend, Pete Alwinson, continuing to teach us from the Sermon on the Mount. And today we talked a bit about mercy. Boy, do we ever need that. Hey, do you ever have questions? I’m not talking about everyday questions, like why did Taco Bell stop offering the beef Mexi-melt? Seriously? Does anybody know, Jeremy? No, I’m talking about the big questions. Questions like, does God exist? Am I really forgiven and free? If all of this is true, why don’t I feel different? Well, Steve is no stranger to doubts and questions. In fact, he wrote about these things in a mini-book called Faith and Doubt: When Belief is Hard. In it, he explores the reasons behind our doubts and explains how we can rest in faith. May we send you this mini-book for free? Let us know at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org to ask for the mini-book. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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